Just when you thought the new-wave scene had gasped its last synthesized breath, She Wants Revenge kicks down the door and starts to drone their miserable, yet oddly danceable gospel right into your ear. Even though they emulate Closer-era Joy Division or Interpol without the skinny ties, for a few minutes, it just doesn’t matter.
By the end of the band’s self-titled debut, it becomes clear that DJs Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin aren’t making any apologies for their influences. In fact, they’re not just trying to derive their sound from the artists who came before them – in many cases – they’re downright copying their post-punk predecessors.
The record itself is well crafted, rarely hitting a slump through its 11 tracks. Yet even the album’s best songs sound like poor imitations. The hip-shaking confession of “I Don’t Want to Fall in Love” sounds like a sped-up, drum-and-bass infused remake of Joy Division’s “A Means to an End.” The guitar on the album’s first cut — the echoing mope-a-thon “Red Flags and Long Nights” – sounds a little too much like Dan Kessler and Paul Banks’s work on Interpol’s “Slow Hands” or “PDA.”
No matter who they insist on ripping off on their way up the charts, She Wants Revenge’s first album is highly stylized and undeniably fun. Considering the dire subject matter and hardline monotone that runs through the album like a cold, still river, the fact the band has received so much airplay on Sirius radio is a laudable achievement in itself.
Still, after a year in which infamous new-wave revivers like The Killers and The Bravery dominated airwaves and magazine covers like pale-faced, eye-shadow-wearing warriors, She Wants Revenge has every reason to fear the industry’s saturation of bands that share a similar sound. And unfortunately, they make themselves far too easy to compare to every band that’s come before and all the new groups running alongside them.
But for all of the hype surrounding the group, working through an old Joy Division album or throwing on Interpol’s “Turn on the Bright Lights” would be more fun – and less expensive – than listening to She Wants Revenge’s dismal facsimile.
It’s a sad fact that naming names and digging into a band’s catalog to tease out their influences has become a staple of rock criticism’s ethics. Yet even if derivation can be considered its own art form, She Wants Revenge sounds more like copycats than innovators. It’s one thing to take something that was done in the past and turn it into something new and exciting; it’s quite another to do Joy Division all over again, and not half as well.
She Wants Revenge
She Wants Revenge
Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars